Silver linings: Cardinals vs. 49ers

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
11:02
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The facts: The Cardinals lost their season opener to the 49ers, 20-16.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
  • The defense shut down Frank Gore and the 49ers' running game.
  • Tim Hightower caught 12 passes for 121 yards, becoming the first Cardinals running back since Larry Centers in 1996 to finish with at least 10 receptions and 100 yards per game. Hightower lacks the speed to consistently get outside as a runner, but he can be effective there as a receiver.
  • Second-year defensive end Calais Campbell continued his strong play. He batted down a screen pass. Campbell also set up teammate Bertrand Berry for a sack by getting a hand on 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill.
  • Linebacker Gerald Hayes had four tackles for loss.
  • The Cardinals were generally physical on defense. Adrian Wilson's hit on Vernon Davis drew a penalty for unnecessary roughness, but it also sent a message.
  • Ben Graham averaged 54.7 yards per punt with a net average of 45.2.
  • The Cardinals' special teams contained 49ers return specialist Allen Rossum.
  • Antrel Rolle averaged 11.0 yards per punt return with a long return of 27 yards.
  • Kurt Warner apparently escaped serious injury after suffering what he described as a "stinger" in his throwing arm. Warner briefly lost feeling in the arm.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals visit the Jaguars in Week 2.

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